Monday, April 5, 2010

Days of Deliverance (D)

A few years ago,
our entire family somehow
got hooked on camping.

Oh, yeah-
it all looks so adventurous
and romantic on TV.

A sweet RV,
moonlit nights around the fire...
singing Koom-By-Ya
and wading through a crystal clear stream
to pick fresh, plump blackberries
or throw in a fishing line,
wriggling with live bait.

just as most things in our family,
we did camping differently.
The normal and more modern way
would be too easy...
too forgettable...
too...well..too normal.

While most families were spending
their summer vacations at the Best Western
or on a clean, peach-colored beach-
we were somewhere deep in the woods-
where no one but Bigfoot dared to tread.

With my husband in charge of the packing inventory,
you would have thought we were blazing a trail
across the country
instead of spending two nights
in the forests of Missouri.

Besides a tent, sleeping bags and cooking utensils,
we loaded the truck with the weed eater, chainsaw,
gasoline, oil, 4-wheeler, air mattress, pillows,
two full-sized coolers, a shovel, rake, gun,
charcoal, firewood,
fishing poles, buckets,
lawn chairs, groceries,camera -
and everything else (besides the kitchen sink)
that might become necessary
within our 48 hour excursion.

I will admit-
it was a bit exciting at first.
The fresh air,
the cool river,
the taste of hot dogs over an open fire,
the smell of burning wood-
the pleasure of a tiny sunburn,
the comfort of a relaxing getaway.

But- here again-
my family couldn't just pick
a cute little campsite
next to fellow outdoorsmen
where a bag of chips
and a bathroom
were within running distance.
(And in my case,
that would be about ten feet.)

We trekked ten miles into the woods
where no one could hear you scream
if by chance wild bears came to drag you off
or a tall pine tree fell on your tent.

We had to be somewhere
that was so dark at night that you
couldn't see your hand in front of your face.
A place where there were giant mosquitoes,
huge lizards,
deadly leeches
and ticks as big as Volkswagens.

...And you had to go uphill
through the poison ivy trail
to poop in a muddy hole.

What seemed like adventure
turned sour quickly.

The days passed like molasses...

I read my magazines three times,
memorized War and Peace,
braided a full size rug
with cattails,
scaled thirty two catfish,
and ruined nearly two dozen
perfectly good marshmallows.

I lost sleep.
I laid awake listening to barn owls
and chatting raccoons-
fluttering bats
and slithering snakes,
coyotes and wolves
and something that kept humming
like a flying saucer.

I was bitten,
blistered and bored.
I was beaten by the elements.

I was zombie-fied.

By the second afternoon
all I could do was sit in my
broken aluminum lawn chair
and babble something about
a real toilet and hot shower.
My eyes were fixed and dialated.
My crazy half-smile froze permanently.
I rocked myself gently...
oh, so gently.

Even on the last night of our journey-
when I heard dueling banjos in the distance,
I was too tired to care.
I was in Deliverance country-
what did I expect?

my family outgrew camping.
We phased it out along with
organic gardening,
roller blading,
and kite flying.

But the scars remain.
The sound of banjos haunt me to this day,
the smell of Off gives me goosebumps,
and the word "camping" makes me vomit.

But, I think I'm really in trouble now, people.
My family wants to take up para sailing!